Embrace Gifts

Embrace Gifts

Christmas is the time of the year where it seems to be all about GIFTS. We celebrate the gift of God’s son, Jesus, coming to the world, but we also spend LOTs of time and money on gifts for each other and, let’s be honest, sometimes ourselves. Tis the season for gifting and regifting, and sometimes forgetting the daily gifts we have around us each day.

As I am winding down the year with my word, EMBRACE, and headed into a new year of life, and a new mindset of pregnancy and motherhood, I am trying to stay mindful of the gifts that are all around me.

I know this child inside of me is a GIFT. I have felt that from the very start, and I pray that my husband and I can steward our gift well! When I first fell in love with my husband and ever since, I have thanked God for the GIFT that he is in my life.

The more I have thought about gifts, both tangible and intangible, I realized I have gifts surrounding me each and every day.

The gift of my family who raised me and sent me out into the world with so much love and support.

The gift of a new job and coworkers as I learn and grow to be a better counselor.

The gift of a church family and friend group who pursue Jesus and seek to show his love in the world.

The gift of friends near and far, with whom I can connect with on soul levels and rejoice at each monumental step along the way.

The gift of a slow morning every now and then, reminding me that even Jesus took the time to rest.

The gift of fresh, crisp winter air as I walk outside, when normally I would have complained about the cold.

The gift of a cool drink of water, as I prepare for my day or for bed.

It is amazing the place my mind and heart have started to settle into as I have intentionally chosen to EMBRACE this past year.

As we remember this past year of 2018 and look forward to the new year of 2019, I would encourage you to set an intention, a word or theme for your next year. Maybe you will not achieve every single one of your goals to the full (I sure did NOT), but you may gain a new mindset and heartset as you choose to walk forward in faith and remember with new eyes.

 

Each day is a gift, each breath is a gift, and I pray we embrace it all!

Embrace the Wait

Embrace the Wait

Waiting, the awkward in between, down time, transition time, interm

Transition. The only thing that never changes is change, right? What about when you know a change is coming and you’re stuck waiting for it to happen? What do you call that?

The Wait.

That’s where I am. Waiting. Yet, I also think that is where I have been most of my life. When I was a kid, I was waiting to be 12 to get my ears pierced. Then, I was waiting to be 16 to start driving on my own. Then, I was waiting to graduate and go to college. Then, I was waiting to graduate again and do what I really wanted to do, go to grad school. Now, I am waiting yet again, to fulfill this God-given dream and calling, something that will take years of day in and day out work and dedication, not just a sign on the wall to say I’m done.

I would say there are two types of waiting: Passive and Active.

When I was a late teenager and young adult, I would passively (often anxiously) wait on my date to come pick me up. This meant everything stopped and the only thing I did was wait. It was a very unproductive time. NOTE: There is a difference between being still and being passive. Passive waiting is impatient and hurried while not getting much at all, and being still is not necessarily about waiting, but about calming the mind, body, and soul enough to find peace and hear God. You can be still while you wait, but the passive wait will consume you.

The other kind of wait is active. This means that in the midst of the waiting, I am still doing, still being, still LIVING. For me, that means I am still taking every opportunity to listen, grow, and develop myself, even if it may not be completely applicable for my longer term goals that I am waiting to achieve.

An active wait means that my heart is engaged and seeking what God wants for me in the midst of the time. Especially in suffering, we want it to pass as quickly as possible, but James tells us to embrace trials because we know what they produce. That sounds like an active wait to me- wanting to get the most out of an experience, even suffering, because we know it produces character!

Waiting in the Bible

Probably one of the biggest examples of the passive wait is the Israelites in the Bible. They waited YEARS to get into the promised land and for many, the waiting consumed them and they impatiently turned to complaining and other gods as a result.

On the other hand, Jacob worked 7 years waiting to marry Rachel, and then another 7 after he had been duped. That’s 14 years of waiting, and yet Genesis 29 shows us that the wait seemed like only a few days. He knew his reward and not even the most grueling of waits could get his spirit down.

You may be saying, well I don’t know my reward. If I knew I would for sure get that sexy spouse or job, or [insert other goal here] in 7 years, of course it would make the wait pass by easily, at least I would know it would happen!

What about when we don’t know the outcome?

One of the biggest pictures of waiting is Jacob’s own son, Joseph. He was given a vision that one day he would be great and all his family would bow down to him. However, he did NOT have a timeline or a conceivable way for that to happen. When he was almost killed and then sold into slavery, it seemed like the opposite would happen, yet he ACTIVELY waited. He became the greatest he could in the worst of circumstances each time. He did not let the wait reduce him to complaining and wandering aimlessly, instead, he put in the work and used his gifts right where he was.

Regardless of the kind of wait, we know the process should be filled with HOPE because we have a reason to HOPE in God.

What are YOU waiting for?

HOW are you waiting?

Psalm 130:5-6 ESV

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning.

Psalm 27:14 ESV 

Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!

 

Embrace Grieving

Embrace Grieving

As you may have heard from my last post, I recently graduated! It is an exciting transition for me with much anticipation towards what is in store for this next season of life. However, what many of us forget as we all make great transitions in life, is that we still experience endings. In order to begin, often something else must end.

These endings can mean we experience some sort of loss and can bring unexpected grief and emotions for which we may not be prepared. Towards the end of my last semester, I started to experience just that. Had I not experienced it before, and had a wise counselor (yes, counselors go to counseling too) speak into my life about grief, I may not have been prepared for the conflicted emotions and thoughts that emerged.

Someone does not have to die for us to experience losses in our life. Loss also does not always mean something negative happened.

Just as we all lose our baby teeth, losses in life allow for new opportunities and growth.

Over the past weeks and months, I have been in a sort of grieving process of this season of life coming to an end. It was a long and cumbersome season where I worked long days and studied and went to school in the evenings. I had a big breakup during this season and also fell in love and got married in this season. God was so faithful throughout the process, even though it was not always enjoyable. Somehow, even though I looked forward to and longed for this day to come, there is a part of me that grieved. I made friends during this season, and I also did not spend as much time with friends as I would have liked.

Grief can be a motivator. When we grieve, we recognize our feelings and the good and the bad, but we don’t have to stay there.

There comes a point in time where we have to recognize and accept that things have changed, or are changing.

“We add to our suffering when life changes and we behave as if it hasn’t.” Mark Nepo

We can do something in the future, as a result of what grief has taught or is teaching us. My grieving has shown me that my word for the year – EMBRACE- was the perfect word. I will always be in some kind of season working towards some kind of goal. That does not need to stop me from embracing moments with the people I love and creating memories. I can pay attention- LISTEN- to what is happening around me and in me, and move forward in peace.

 

Are you in a transition season of life?

 

Is there something that you have not yet grieved?

 

Is there something changing in your life that you’re trying to act like it is not happening?

Embrace Self-Care

Embrace Self-Care

What comes to your mind when you hear the words “Self Care”?

Some in our world would say “Treat Yo-Self”! Others may say, go ahead, you deserve it. On the other end of the spectrum, you have people saying self-care is selfish. Care for others more than yourself, etc. Personally, I have found that taking the time to nurture and care for myself actually helps me to give more and pour into others.

I am at a point in my life where I am extremely busy and getting ready to step into what I have felt was my calling for the past 12 years- to be a mental health counselor. It is exciting and full, but it is also exhausting.

I have had to learn to listen to others like never before. I have learned to be present each hour of the day as I sit with the next person and they unload their burdens. I am learning the art of listening to the Holy Spirit and sensing where he is leading these individuals, whether they know him or not. I am also learning my own limits as a human being and when I need to say no, and take care of myself.

Self Care.

Something that usually comes easily for me, but in a season like this, seems like the last thing I want to do with all that “has” to be done.

At the beginning of last semester, I was preparing for a “busy season” and strategically started writing encouraging reminders to myself in a card. Each one was a verse or a time when I felt God confirmed my calling to me through interaction with other people. Those reminders helped that semester breeze by. In addition to that, I had an amazing group of women who were going through the same process with me, and almost every day, we would encourage one another, sharing verses, prayers, and insight into each others’ situations.

This semester seemed like it would be more of the same. With my internships both being squeezed into one semester, I knew it would be a difficult schedule, perhaps more than the last, but I thought I had made the necessary changes to balance it all out. Turns out that while those changes did help practically, I had forgotten some very important emotional and spiritual resources to keep me going.

I found myself feeling alone and close to burn out.

Thankfully, I had an opportune moment to share some of my feelings with some friends who encouraged me and kept me on track. Then I found that same card that I had written to myself months ago, and read through it again. In order to continue to give to each person coming to see me, I knew (and still know) that I needed to be full.

We see in Scripture that Jesus rested in the midst of the storm when his disciples grew fearful (Matt 8:24), he went up on mountaintops and prayed (Luke 6:12), and he even “withdrew to lonely places to pray” (Luke 5:16). With Jesus, it seemed that rest and prayer were key components in his times away- his self-care was a lifestyle.

Maybe the world’s definition of self care means doing things you enjoy because it will help you maintain mental stability- that can be part of it but is it all of it?

What if the purpose of self-care is to help us achieve a greater purpose?

Sometimes it means seeking to encourage yourself through prayer and communion with God, and sometimes it can mean choosing to encourage others in the midst of your mess (think- those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed. Prov. 11:25). Maybe it means enjoying nature or taking a nap. What fills you up and renews your purpose?

What do you do for self care? Is it helping you achieve your greater purpose? Is it an integral part of your daily, weekly, or yearly way of life?

How can you choose better health for yourself mentally, spiritually, physically, and relationally?

As we know from Jesus’ life, seeking solace and time to nurture his soul was part of his lifestyle. It was intentional and an investment that kept him going. Every so often he chose to get away from the crowds that were constantly vying for his attention and healing touch, and we can take the time to set aside everyday demands to nurture our souls as well.

Embrace 2018

Embrace 2018

2018.

EMBRACE.

To fully and enthusiastically accept.

All that this year has to offer, all that God has to offer, and MORE.

Embracing calling, identity, challenges, celebrations, and the small moments.

Embracing love, joy, and peace in ALL things.

Embracing courage, fearlessness, and boldness.

Embracing who I am, imperfections and all,

BUT Not letting who I am go unchanged, instead embracing growth!

I choose to welcome others with open arms,

Grace, and a smile on my face.

A warm embrace.

Mark 11:23-25 The Message (MSG)

22-25 Jesus was matter-of-fact: “Embrace this God-life. Really embrace it, and nothing will be too much for you. This mountain, for instance: Just say, ‘Go jump in the lake’—no shuffling or shilly-shallying—and it’s as good as done. That’s why I urge you to pray for absolutely everything, ranging from small to large. Include everything as you embrace this God-life, and you’ll get God’s everything. And when you assume the posture of prayer, remember that it’s not all asking. If you have anything against someone, forgive—only then will your heavenly Father be inclined to also wipe your slate clean of sins.”